By Emma Hurst
Photo by Elizabeth Moody
With a new coach and new schedule, cross country has undergone great change this season. Senior runners share how this adjustment has affected the team, both on and off the field.
It seems that at St. Mary’s, everything is constantly changing. From the construction, to new people and clubs, SMS is always in a state of transition. The cross country team has also undergone a few changes. Coach Hensarling has taken the place of the former coach, Mrs. Zehring. With this shift in leadership comes a number of changes, including differences in training and more social activities.
Training for this season has been altered in several different ways. As for the summer schedule, practices began in the second week of June, which were all mandatory if the athletes were in town; this significantly increased the number of people that attended practice. Coach Hensarling said, “To me, there’s a point to everything we do. The summer is about running and getting stronger, and about building on what they did during the track season.” The runners will use what they did in track to move into the training for cross country. Coach Hensarling designs 4-week training blocks throughout the season that focus on specific goals. This year, each team member is expected to race every two weeks at weekend meets. Last year, meets were optional for all runners. The team will also be participating in more out of town meets. To strengthen their skills further, Coach Hensarling now requires the team to meet every Saturday to run. Despite this emphasis on personal growth and improvement, Coach Hensarling intends for these adjustments to affect more than this. Hensarling explained “Cross country is weird because we’re a team, but we’re also individual runners. So one of my goals is to develop them individually but also help them grow as a team.” It can be difficult for athletes to bond as a team in such an individual sport, but this is where the social activities come into play.
Photo courtesy of St. Mary's Twitter
After running on a course in Nashville during the summer, the team had lunch together and came back to have a sleepover at one of the team member’s house. Once a week they’ll start practice with games, and they plan to have team lunches in the future. An overnight trip will be happening this year, which will be a great opportunity for the team to get to know each other better. When asked about her feelings on the activities, Maddie Jenks (12) said, “This year, we’ve been doing a lot of team building activities, and I’ve gotten to know a lot more people. We’ve grown more together, and there is more participation from everyone on the team. I think this improves each person’s motivation towards the sport.”
If you want to support the cross country team, their next meet will be the Frank Horton Invitational, held at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29 at Shelby Farms.
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